Sleep-Deprived Characters

For understandable reasons, sleep–or the lack thereof–has been on my mind.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several ways sleep is used in fiction.

  • It can provide a handy scene or chapter break.
  • It offers the possibility of dreams, which are often used to reveal a character’s inner thoughts/fears/etc. or for the purposes of foreshadowing or other exposition.
  • It can be an attack–think sleeping spells/potions or chloroform.
  • Also a handy way to make plans go awry if a character dozes off. Characters are also vulnerable to attack when sleeping.

But what about a lack of sleep? is there a point in your story when your character is sleep-deprived? What does that do to her?

In college I could go one night with no sleep, or about three nights with insufficient sleep, before I crashed. Now I’ve been running on insufficient sleep for nearly a month. And I realized something.

I am a completely different person when I am sleep-deprived.

I get touchy, irritable, pessimistic, fearful, unreasonable, weepy. I take everything personally. My self-esteem goes right out the window.

As soon as I catch a good nap, all of that goes away. I’m back to cheerful, capable, reasonable me.

So what happens to your character(s)? I won’t buy it if, for example, they’re still thinking clearly after three days of being on the run, constantly hunted, sleeping lightly and in shifts.

Just saying.

Happy Sleeping!


2 thoughts on “Sleep-Deprived Characters

  1. That’s something that bugs me so much in books! I know people can do awesome things when the adrenaline kicks in…but how long can it really last? Another thing that bugs me? Early morning make out sessions…the characters never take time to brush their teeth. Lol.

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